But, but, services must be universal!

Middle class parents should lose their free nursery hours because the Government’s flagship policy is “entrenching inequality”, a select committee has said.

Under the policy, working parents who earn up to £100,000 between them are entitled to 30 hours of free childcare for three to four-year-olds, which is double the 15 hours they were previously entitled to.

The multi-billion pound taxpayer funded scheme, which came into force in September 2017, was aimed at encouraging parents to get back into work rather than getting put off by prohibitive childcare costs.

But MPs on the education select committee found that the policy has given a boost to affluent families while leading to “perverse” consequences…

We must all use the NHS because a service only for the poor will be bad. We must abolish private schools because only when the middle classes must use public education will their pressure raise standards.

Double standards, who’d have any without them?

It always was a terrible idea anyway

Theresa May’s deputy has warned that a proposed reduction in the number of trains running along High Speed 2 will “seriously undermine” the case for continuing with the project.

David Lidington has asked HS2 Ltd, the government-owned firm behind the scheme to set out the “current business case” for the £56 billion project, after The Sunday Telegraph revealed that the company had suggested it could cut the hourly number of trains by a fifth to prevent costs from spiraling out of control.

And the case for any infrastructure lies in the capacity utilisation…..

Who wouldn’t want a 20% pay rise?

Since I started teaching part-time, my Friday mornings have begun to look remarkably different. Rather than waking up at 5:30am as I do during the rest of the week, I roll out of bed at a leisurely hour and often start my day with a yoga class. After enjoying the luxury of breakfast at my kitchen table instead of a classroom desk, I spend the rest of the day planning my year 10 lessons for the following week. Occasionally, I treat myself by popping out to the post office or the bank. More often than not, I’m sending emails trying to secure writing commissions – now I am teaching part-time, I need to find other ways to top up my income.

This probably sounds appealing to most teachers, who have usually spent most of their Friday dreading that year 9 double lesson after lunch. And there’s no doubt that teaching part-time has kept me in the classroom; I was very close to becoming one of the 31% of teachers who leave the profession within their first five years of qualifying.

But there are two glaring issues with the Friday I have just described: first, I am still continuing to do school work even on my day off; and second, I’ve had to take a cut in my salary and seek out additional work to make up the difference.

You do less work and you get paid less. Hmm, shocker, eh?

Rather than the option of working part-time being available only to those who can afford it, what if all teachers everywhere were able to work a four-day week, and crucially, without a loss in pay?

Sounds good to me too. When are you going to start paying me five days’ pay for four days’ work?

A most interesting number

£334 billion net tax revenues for the government from the oil and gas sector
since 1970-71

Helps to explain why we didn’t put it all into a sovereign wealth fund as Norway did.

Simply not a large enough number in relation to UK public finances or economic size.

Yes, yes, obviously, that’s a non-inflation adjusted number, doesn’t include what might have been earned on any investment fund etc. But still. The Norwegians were at times getting 30% of GDP from the oil. The UK peaked at what, 3%? Summat like that.

National Association for the Promotion of Catastrophic Childcare

At least 250,000 children should be classed as victims of domestic abuse under government reforms due this month, says the NSPCC.

The charity says the Government’s current legal definition of domestic abuse fails to recognise the mental, emotional and social damage that children can suffer from domestic abuse in the family.

It says education department figures show domestic violence was a factor in the 246,720 cases last year where children were assessed to be in need of protection yet they had no legal guarantee that action would be taken because they were not classed as victims.

The NSPCC says provision is patchy with children in some areas not being treated for mental ill health or behaviour…

The activity of the NSPCC will lead to a quarter of a million more children being abused. They’re thus in the business of promoting child abuse, no? And yes, of course, they are. They’re a bureaucracy aiming to say alive, therefore their problem must be larger so that their bureaucracy is larger and safer. They thus definitively promote in the sense of changing definitions to create more abuse….

This surprises every sailor in the country, right?

The UK Border Force is risking collisions in the Channel, say experts, as it is claimed their vessels are acting in an “unseaman-like” manner by turning off tracking systems.

Merchant shipping operating on autopilot in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes often rely on the location devices as their “only means of anti-collision”.

The Border Force cutters operating off the Kent coast have potentially risked collision by failing to use the internationally-recognised Automatic Identification System (AIS), which alerts fellow seafarers and coastal authorities of their location, route and other safety-related information to aid safe passage at sea.

I hadn’t realised that the system allowed the immigration stasi to drive their own boats. Can’t help thinking that allowing the RN to do the seamanship bit might not be better. Or the water wing of the Girl Guides perhaps.

Ex-Cabinet Minister gains knighthood

The veteran Eurosceptic John Redwood has received a knighthood in the New Year honours list, prompting accusations that Theresa May is using the honours system to smooth the way for her Brexit deal.

With the vote on the prime minister’s deal due to take place in the week of 14 January, the Conservative backbencher and former Wales secretary is one of three MPs to be knighted.

It’s about par for the course in the gongs list, isn’t it? Actually, Redwood could fairly expect a peerage – not inevitably gain one, but fairly expect. So, not much of a bribe at all.

You say tomahto and I say tomayto

Councils have given thousands of rough sleepers and homeless people one-way train, bus and flight tickets to leave areas and sometimes even to leave the country in the last four years, a Guardian investigation can reveal.

The tickets were bought through “reconnection policies” that aim to encourage rough sleepers to voluntarily return to areas where they have family and support networks. It has been described as “street cleansing” and an abdication of responsibility by some campaigners and MPs.

Advice – and aid – to homeless people to go home where they’ve got a home is a good or a bad idea?

Doesn’t really work, does it?

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has offered federal workers affected by the partial government shutdown a guide for negotiating with creditors, landlords and mortgage companies while their income is cut off.

The Thursday tweet notes that workers should consult with a “personal attorney” for advice but offers templates for how one might seek financial assistance for various financial obligations.

Among the suggested strategies: A furloughed employee might offer to trade maintenance services such as painting or carpentry work in exchange for a reduction in rent.

If they could do useful work like painting or carpentry then they wouldn’t be bureaucrats, would they?

Well, obviously, yes

Student loans must be added to the deficit, the Office for National Statistics has said, as almost eight in ten graduates never pay it back in full.

The new accounting system, which comes into force next autumn, will be a blow for the Treasury as it will leave a £12 billion hole in public finances, according to official forecasts.

The ONS will now split the loans into two parts – financial assets and government expenditure. It marks a break with the current system where student loans do not count as government spending, despite the fact that many graduates do not earn enough to re-pay the loan.

“The design of the system means much of this student loan debt will never be repaid, and is therefore written off by the government,” said David Bailey, head of public sector division at the ONS.

My only confusion is why wasn’t it treated like this before?

This is really quite amazing

US public transportation is notoriously underdeveloped compared to most other wealthy countries. In fact, according to a recent study, the New York City subway is the only US rail system that ranks among the 10 busiest in the world.

Another report found that transit ridership fell in 31 of 35 major metropolitan areas last year, including in Washington, DC, Chicago, and New York City. However, 2018 has birthed some new transit projects, including a high-speed rail line from New Haven to Hartford, Connecticut, and the TEXRail, which will travel from downtown Fort Worth to DFW Airport.

Christof Spieler, a structural engineer and urban planner from Houston, has lots of opinions about public transit in America and elsewhere. In his new book, Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of US Transit, he maps out 47 metro areas that have rail transit or bus rapid transit, ranks the best and worst systems, and offers advice on how to build better networks. I recently spoke to him by phone about what cities are doing right and wrong in investing in public transit, and what they should focus on for future projects.

The bloke who works as an urban planner says that the cities doing well are those that employ lots of urban planners.

Remarkable that.

Pensions are indeed deferred wages

Urgent talks are under way to avert a mass walkout on the railways in a growing row over pensions.

Tensions have risen over the Pensions Regulator’s demands that train companies and workers plug yawning deficits in their final-salary schemes.

Well, yes.

“We will always seek to protect our members’ deferred wages and resolve any issues in the best way possible, based on their wishes.”

Pensions are deferred wages. Therefore we’d better include pensions in our calculations of wages, hadn’t we?

So, public sector, you underpaid are you?

Why would this help?

Britain must appoint a minister for cyber security because it is lagging behind Russia and not doing enough to protect critical national infrastructure, MPs have warned.

The Joint Committee on National Security Strategy found ministers are failing to act with “a meaningful sense of purpose or urgency” in the face of the growing cyber threat to the UK.

It said while states such as Russia were expanding their capability to mount disruptive cyber attacks, the level of ministerial oversight was “wholly inadequate”.

Why would a Minister in charge aid us? Don’t we do that when we want something to fail? And given the British state’s proven competence at things online (NHS for Change anyone?)…..

Suppose so really

Affordable housing residents in a new enclave of 3,400 homes are being prevented from using a luxury swimming pool and gymnasium, which are being kept for the exclusive use of private owners and renters.

Residents paying taxpayer-subsidised rents at Royal Wharf in the London borough of Newham have complained they are victims of segregation because they will not have access to a state-of-the-art clubhouse that neighbours who own or rent privately will enjoy.

Homes in the complex on the north bank of the Thames sell for up to £1.2m but 243 apartments have been made available to people on lower incomes at 60% of market rent as part of a flagship scheme by the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, to try to fix the capital’s housing crisis.

Up to about 500 residents are affected and some have branded the decision unfair because it appeared to discriminate against them because they were less well-off than the other people at the estate.

Yes, this is discrimination against you. Just as the decision to offer you subsidised housing is discrimination in favour of you.

Swings and roundabouts really, isn’t it.

How very interesting

Fire alarms would be more effective at waking sleeping children in the event of a blaze if they were fitted with the sound of their mother’s voice, a new study has shown.

Children’s hearing is different to that of adults, and British research last year showed that 80 per cent of under 13s do not wake up to the high-pitched sound of a normal home smoke detector.

You mean all that money spent on installing alarms absolutely everywhere – it’s worth it if it saves just one child! – was wasted?

Sounds about right

Mohamad Machine-Chian
Yesterday at 8:13 AM ·
The Iranian Department of the environment—a.k.a champions of confused priorities and wasted budgets—decides to move the ten last zebras left in the country from one national park to another. Five of them die during a car accident and the other five escape. Days later, they have proudly listed the gathering of the five remaining zebras among their accomplishments.